I recently read a blog from someone called SushiWalker that I found most interesting and intriguing. It was on a traditional Japanese funeral.
Let me tell you why I enjoyed it. I have someone who I know who is Japanese and at one time in my house we were eating Chinese food and I could only find one pair of chopsticks in our house that matched colors. I gave them to him while I ate with a black and red pair. He informed me that his grandmother told him that this was unlucky and evil spirits could harm me if I ate with mismatched chopsticks.
I wondered where this idea came from. After reading in this blog I figured it all out. Here’s an excerpt:
Maybe it’s my western upbringing, or maybe everyone else also has their silent reservations about picking the bones of the dead. When we entered the private room, a large tray was waiting for us in the middle of the room holding the ashes of the body. While all the flesh, the entire casket, flowers, and most other contents had burned down to fine ash, the skeletal structure of the body was still intact and warm (you could feel the heat radiating from the tray). Looking carefully in the ashes, one could identify small nails from the casket or pieces of the watch that was burned with the body… The representative then handed out several pairs of mismatched chopsticks (one wood, one bamboo) for us to pick the bones to place inside the urn. If you ever wondered why it’s taboo to eat with mismatched chopsticks, this is why. He instructed us to pick from the feet first so that the body will be upright in the urn. We each picked a bone, placed it in the urn, and then passed off the chopsticks to the next person.
Read it all here: http://www.xanga.com/sushiwalker/619744234/item.html